Talk about your tough choices.

Any of seven girls who entered ourScholar-Athlete competition deserved top honors.

Four candidates had perfect 4.0 averages in high school -- including one who wasn't even her school's winner (more on that later); three others ranged from 3.5 to 3.9.

All are multisport standouts, and all were involved in a plethora of extracurricular activities.

So, what is it that set Stacey Kent of North Carroll ahead of the pack? An ever-so-slight edge in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores over all but one candidate and, perhaps, a tiny edge in the list of academic and athletic honors and activities. To be honest, though, we had to split hairs to pick a winner.

Kent, at the time her application was sent in, had a 4.0 average, was top-ranked in her class and had a 1,230 SAT score, played three sports (most of the other top candidates "only" played two) and has several all-county selections to her credit.

Kim Wadel of Carroll Christian High, a repeat winner from last year, checked in with a 4.0 average, also was top-ranked and played three sports but was just a little behind in SAT scores.

Kristin Medvetz, another repeat winner, also carried a 4.0 average, but the county's best female tennis player played just two sports and had a slightly lower SAT score than Kent.

Francis Scott Key's Michele Koons had "only" a 3.98 average, good for third in her class, while playing three sports for the Eagles. Like the other top candidates, her SAT scores were just behind Kent but still more than 1,100.

Liberty's Rachael Horneman, another repeat winner, turned in a 3.95 average, wasranked fourth in her class and had a 1,200 on her SATs while being among the area's best in girls soccer and lacrosse. Again excellent, but not quite good enough to unseat Kent.

But perhaps the toughest call the selection committee -- myself and Editor Edward Shur -- has had to make in six years of running this competition was the girls winner from Westminster High.

On the one hand, Connie Tromble had a 4.0 average and was the top-ranked student in her graduating class and had a 1,250 SAT, while playing two varsity sports.

On the other hand, Latha Naganna had a 3.95 average and was third in the class, had a 1,300 SAT score and also played two sports. But the clincher for Naganna was her four college courses at Western Maryland, Mount St. Mary's and University of Caen in France -- and with A's and B's in allof them.

Still, good as they were, they couldn't nudge Kent from that top spot.

All 12 of the individual winners -- one boy and onegirl from each of the five public high schools and Carroll Christian-- will receive a plaque. The two overall winners -- Kent and Liberty's Tim Frey -- also will receive $200 U.S. savings bonds.

Frey was a fairly clear-cut winner for the boys, having played basketball and track this year, soccer and baseball a year ago and earning severalawards for participation in the Liberty band. His 1,310 SAT score was the highest of all our entrants -- male or female -- and his 3.92 grade-point average had him ranked sixth in the class.

His closest competitor was Westminster soccer and baseball player Chris Boner, whose 3.83 grade-point average ranked him ninth in his class. He also had an outstanding 1,290 SAT score.

With 33 applicants and 12 individual winners, the 1991 version of our competition was one of the best ever. The number of applicants was just behind the record 36 who entered last year.

But we still have not reached that elusive goal of having 14 individual winners, since no athletes from Western Maryland College applied this year.

We had more than one girl apply fromeach of the six schools that participated, including four each at Key, North Carroll and Carroll Christian. We had six boys from Liberty apply, but from four schools, only one boy entered.

Still, if for no reason other than the extremely high quality of our female candidates, this is probably the best crop of student-athletes we've ever honored.

ries, concluding today, tracking the different paths being taken by five Carroll County high school and college graduates. Graduation is today at North Carroll and South Carroll; it was Friday at Westminster, yesterday at Francis Scott Key and Liberty

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